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The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (1939)

Approved | | Biography, Drama, Musical | 29 March 1939 (USA)
The story of married couple Irene Castle and Vernon Castle, sensational ballroom dancers prior to World War I.



(screen play), (adaptation) | 2 more credits »

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1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Papa Aubel
Mrs. Foote
Rolfe Sedan ...
Emile Aubel
Dr. Foote
Student Pilot
Clarence Derwent ...
Papa Louis
Claire Ford
Grand Duke


In 1911, Vernon Castle, minor comic in a stage revue, pursues the leading lady to a New Jersey beach...where, instead, he meets stage-struck Irene Foote. A few misadventures later, they're married; at Irene's insistence, they abandon comedy to attempt a dancing career, which attempt only lands them in Paris without a sou. Fortunately, agent Maggie Sutton hears them rehearse and starts them on their brilliant career as the world's foremost ballroom dancers. But at the height of their fame, World War I begins... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

29 March 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La grande farandole  »

Box Office


$1,196,000 (estimated)


$1,120,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Final film of Roy D'Arcy. See more »


When first in Paris, the band plays Darktown Strutters Ball. This song was written in 1917, certainly ahead of the date of this part of the film as the Castles were on their honeymoon. See more »


Featured in Visions of Light (1992) See more »


Come, Josephine in My Flying Machine
Written by Fred Fisher (1910)
Lyrics by Al Bryan
Sung by "bachelor outing" chorus
See more »

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User Reviews

A Musical with a Plot
7 June 2001 | by (NH -- the First primary State) – See all my reviews

"The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle" was the last of the major Fred Astaire - Ginger Rogers musicals of the 1930s. And it was different in many ways from the others, namely that the story was more important than the songs and dances.

Really, is "Top Hat" with its emphasis on production numbers linked by a thin plot of mistaken identity really a lot different than today's action movies with endless car chases and pyrotechnic special effects linked by a very thin story about a hit man or the earth getting hit by a comet? Sorry about that analogy, I'll take the great musicals over the "actions" any day! "Yo" is not great dialog.

My parents tell me that at the time, this film was panned by the critics and did not make it as big at the box office. Could it be that everyone wanted another "Top Hat" or Swing Time?" I enjoyed those lovely musicals with their big production numbers. Could it be the emphasis on Vernon's patriotic service with the RAF in World War I might have offended many people's "isolationism" in 1939 about the growing World War II?

Fred and Ginger wanted to do a movie with more substance, and they pulled it off in grand style. The songs and dances were nice, with only one very brief "production number." But they did a great job of showing how two young entertainers met, fell in love, became famous, and made a sacrifice in the war. In 1911, young Irene Castle "discovers" Vernon, a second-rate vaudeville comic when she sees him dancing at an evening outing. She shows Vernon her not ready for prime time dance number "The Yama Yama Men." The two fall in love and marry, and with a lot of self-taught dance technique, suddenly hit the big time in France by dancing their famous "Castle Walk." The Castles' fame grew and grew and they toured Europe and America, and made a lot of money through merchandising things like Irene Castle hats. Long before Michael Jordan's basketball shoes. In fact, you will see entries for both Vernon and Irene here in the Movie Database. Irene went on to star in a few silent films, but never made a "talkie." You'll be glad to know that Irene served as an advisor for the Rogers -Astaire film, enhancing its accuracy.

As always, they had some great character actors. I never knew Walter Brennan was ever that young. Fred and Ginger really showed a depth to their acting. From there, of course, Ginger moved into dramatic movies, including her Oscar-winning "Kitty Foyle." I think Fred's later movies matured too.

In short, I think you will like this movie, but don't expect to see a clone of "Swing Time."

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